Summer, North France 2013
The phenomenon that pervades political and musical escapism in Britain – the free party.
There is something unique about stomping to the dirtiest basslines and junglistic beats in the mud in some beaten up old wellies and a bottle of cheap cider in hand; something really quite special. Something addictive. This is why the festival circuit all over Britain, Europe and the entire globe in fact, attracts the biggest gatherings of we human beings year after year. It’s not just the music, it’s the spirit, it’s the people. Free parties encapsulate this spiritual mayhem and working well beyond the boundaries of the law, a rave in the trees is one of the most communal and all consuming feelings any of us could experience.
The free party (or, if big enough, the “Teknival“) finds it’s modernist roots in the Acid House movement in the late 80’s, with raves hosted in secret locations almost every single weekend. It blossomed at the same time as ecstasy culture rose in Britain, with promoters like Genesis, Energy and Sunrise hosting huge parties such as Back to the Future and the infamous Castlemorton, causing the Government to wag the finger and take steps to crack down on them completely. Thus, the free party became a political (or anti-political) phenomenon simply out of default, a grassroots resistance.
Hallowe’en, Bristol 2013
At the heart of the free party is the ever beating sense of freedom, they can start in the evening and continue through the night until the next morning, some of the better ones even longer. Some have been known to go on for days, even up to a week. The communities which drive these parties have an implied anarchistic stance, recognizing their own self-bestowed authority as a righteous path to follow: a feeling echoed by all who attend. There is such an intense feeling of unity and family which arises, one cannot help but empathize – I’ve never seen one fight at a free party, yet all I need to do is walk down the high street on Friday night in my home town and I will see it all kicking off. But that’s another discussion for another time..
The free party ethic pervades and saturates the surrounding atmosphere in a way that really restores your faith in humanity, that just maybe we can overcome our blistering problems and actually thrive as one interdependent species? Who knows.
As for now, I can only recommend you to ask around the local soundsystems, see what’s happening and where. Don’t post it on social media. Be responsible, be safe… but if you want to find some of your best friends for life and have some of the most incredible nights in your time upon this earth – find it, attend it, skank your boots off.